Whilst fishing on a lake early in the afternoon I spooned a rainbow trout I caught and was amazed at the number of midge buzzer pupa it had eaten. I counted over thirty. The sun was still warm and the fish were taking the pupa high in the water column, just a foot or so down.
BUZZER MIDGE FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 12 14 16 18 20 24 - $US each
I discovered this because where as I had been catching fish on the point fly in the cooler part of the day, I was now getting bites on my top dropper. The last was a lively 3lb rainbow. The size and depth of the fly you fish is a crucial factor in your success. After pouring the contents of the spoon into a flat dish that I keep in my tackle bag, I found a nymph that matched the shape colour and size of the natural insects that the trout were feeding on. In this case it was a size 12 orange cheeked brown epoxy buzzer. In the late afternoon takes started to dry up. I soon found the reason why. A 6lb pike takes my top dropper fly. It had scared all the trout away. I was totally shocked. I had never caught a pike on an epoxy buzzer before. It gave me a great fight.
I always use an epoxy buzzer on my Stillwater casts. They are my most consistent producing fly. I know it looks drab compared with many other modern lurid flies that contain orange hotspots and flashes of bright tinsel but it works. I believe its secret is that it does not ring any alarm bells. It just looks like another normal natural food item. You know you have a take when an unsuspecting trout makes the fatal mistake of taking your fly and swimming off causing a steady heaviness on your line. I normally fish an epoxy buzzer on the middle dropper under a floater, about ten feet from the heavier point fly. I fish the team of flies absolutely static at first and then experiment with a very slow retrieve, whether I am in a boat or on the bank.
Why are buzzer nymph patterns covered in epoxy glue?
I believe the most important reason is that they give the fly a very smooth finish that helps it slice through water to get to the required depth quickly without making a bug splash. It offers less resistance than other nymph patterns and has a faster sink rate. The epoxy also adds weight to the fly which helps with the decent. The glue forms a hard outer coating and as a result makes it much more durable than other nymphs. The trout’s teeth can make short work of fine ribbing and bare thread found on other nymph patterns
Epoxy Buzzers are, for these reasons, very useful as point flies, as they can get down through the water to the depth required fast and act as an anchor for the rest of the team. The natural insects are often observed having a sheen appearance to their outer surface as they rise in the water column. This is caused by microscopic air bubbles which often appear as the pupae becomes active. The shiny appearance of the outside of an epoxy buzzer imitates this condition visually and fools trout and grayling.
Fly fishing the ripple with a team of buzzers
The early morning drive to the reservoir did not look promising for a days fishing. The rain was coming down at 45 degrees and some of the trees lining the road side were bending in the wind. It was my only day off for the next three weeks where I could go fishing so I was determined to make the best of the day whatever the conditions.
I am as keen as anyone to get fishing but when the rain is lashing down and there are rather large waves on what is supposed to be a 'stillwater' my enthusiasm for sitting in an exposed little row boat does slightly wane. I suppose this attitude comes with old age. One or two more hardy souls had ventured out but were getting a thorough soaking. That would have been me when I was in my 20s.
I checked the rain radar app on my phone and saw that the storm clouds would pass within the next hour. I spent that time having a coffee in the fishing lodge and getting my gear ready. When the rain stopped the wind died away. The water was transformed from a raging wild thing to the flat calm of a mirror. British weather is so changeable. Sometimes you can have all four seasons during the same day.
I rowed my hired boat out 100 yards from the lodge. I had spotted trout moving every now and then. I failed to get a response to all my casts over the next hour. Sitting motionless on the calm water with no takes was getting very frustrating. The Sun had come out and I had to dig out my hat to protect my bald spot from getting burnt.
Half an hour later, in one fell swoop the fishing went from impossible to ridiculously easy. The Sun started to warm the water and cause evaporation. Hot air rises and this is what started to happen over the water. The cool air from the surrounding hills started moving downhill onto the water and caused the still calm water to ripple. The fish could no longer see me casting. The ripple had obscured their vision of what was happening on the surface.
I had been covering the rising fish with a team of three skinny epoxy buzzers nymphs. As I figure of eight them back towards me there was a sudden tightening of the line. As the fight developed I quickly came to the realisation that I had not hooked one trout but I had two on the end of my line. One had taken the top fly and the other the dropper. I managed to land both.
It was getting crowded near the lodge as more people arrived. I rowed over towards the dam. The water surface was still covered with the ripples of little breeze blown waves. I found a perfect drift almost parallel with the bank. I used the same team of three epoxy buzzer nymphs but after missing two trout that bow waved after my top dropper I started to search my fly box for something different.
I selected some traditional feather wing wet flies. It seems so rare these days to get fish willing to chase a fly across and just under the surface on a big expanse of open water. I chose a Black Gnat for the middle dropper and a Blue Winged Olive for the top. I put a beaded Gold Ribbed Hares Ear Nymph on the point to make casting easier.
The traditional wets worked their magic. The firm wing kept the fly upright rather than spinning around as occurs when you fish some of the more modern hair wing patterns. The imitation fly looks more like a spooked juvenile fish trying to escape the attentions of a hungry predator. The sight of a manic rainbow pushing water try to get at your fly is one of the most exciting fly-fishing experiences.
Of course I did not hook them all. Some came up short but the sport was exhilarating. The action was furious. Most of the trout were holding 20 yards off the dam wall. The drift I found was perfect to keep pushing me through new pockets of fish. At least it did until the clouds appeared in the sky and the wind died again leaving the surface flat and calm again. Then you would have sworn there were no fish in the reservoir. I find it is amazing the effect of a ripple on the surface can make on a days fishing.